Many boaters never give much thought to that anchor on the bow. In fact I would venture a guess that there are many boats out there whose anchor has never kissed the water. To all those I would caution … "When the day comes that you need an anchor; you are probably going to Really, Really, need an Anchor!"
Identifying the Perfect Anchor
To start let’s clear the air about the "Perfect Anchor" - There is None!
No single anchor design works under all conditions, all bottom types, and in every situation.
To be fair though, there are a couple of designs out there that do come close.
There is only one acceptable outcome to successful anchoring: "To turn in each night knowing that your boat will be in the same place when you get up the next morning." Something that you might want to keep in mind when beginning your search for your next “Perfect Anchor!”
So what does the perfect anchor look like?
- Penetrate, set quickly, and hold in all bottom conditions: sand, mud, grass, coral, rocks, etc…
- Reset quickly when wind or tidal currents change and cause the anchor to break out.
- Provide maximum holding power on steady or varying loads.
- Be easy to breakout when you are getting underway.
- Have easy storage either on deck, storage locker, or an anchor roller platform.
- Be of high strength and durable construction.
Good luck finding one of those, and if you do let me know; I want one too!
Anchors - How They Work
Anchors typically work in one of two ways:
- Like using a 2000# mushroom anchor that makes use of its weight alone to keep your 20' CC fishing boat in the exact spot that you want it.
- Like most modern anchor designs, an anchor that penetrates the bottom and buries itself with little regard to its weight.
So What’s the Solution?
For those that cruise extensively and often anchor in many different bottom types and weather situations, it is good practice to carry at least (2) anchors of differing styles. This allows for the use of the most effective anchor for prevailing conditions. More importantly though, is that in the event of foul weather a second anchor can be set to provide additional security.
For the boater whose normal cruising range is limited to a small area with a relatively consistent bottom type, a single anchor may be all that is required, but choose carefully. The prudent mariner may also want to consider having a storm anchor nonetheless.
Before you rush out to find and buy your next anchor, there is an important point to be made. While the anchor you choose is important, it is only one part of the total system that you have to rely on.
This total system, commonly referred to as "ground tackle", is comprised of the anchor, the anchor line or anchor chain, properly referred to as the "rode." And just who came up with that term, "rode?" It kind of reminds me of how I feel leaving Sloppy Joes or the Hog’s Breath at 2 A.M. (Like in "Rode Hard and Put Away Wet"), but I digress. Then there is the windless if so equipped, some form of a stopper if using a windless, and finally the attachment point aboard your vessel. All of these items must work together to provide you with a good night’s sleep.
Since most readers are primarily interested knowing which anchor is best for them, we will start with a discussion on the various types of anchors along with their pros and cons.
There are basically 3 or 4 anchor designs found on pleasure boats today. They include: The Lightweight (Fluke) Anchors, Plow and Scoop Anchors, and Claw Anchors. Within these categories, you will find a wide selection of designs and manufacturers. Some of these designs are based on modifications for special applications, some are design improvements on the original, and many are just cheap knock offs designed to attract the buyer with price savings (Caveat Emptor.)